This weekend house located in Caniçada, Vieira do Minho, Portugal, was designed by Correia|Ragazzi Architects as a reconstruction on the site of a previous ruin – its site on the Cavado River, and a tributary, proved challenging in several ways. First, the dimensions of the new house were dictated by those of the previous ruin; second, the site is also in a protected natural area and thus had stringent conditions for any construction: buildings had to be concrete, and all trees had to be preserved. The architects explain, “Since the first visit of the site, it was clear we were dealing with a delicate project. The project placement on the plot was essential, given that the surroundings were the main reference for the construction.” But the clients were firm about the location: as avid water-skiers, they specifically wanted to be on the river and integrate it into their home.
The clients needed space for themselves and a child, and wanted a guest suite, preferably separate from the house, with a shower and bath area, and a storage spot for the waterskiing equipment. The final location of the house, at right angles to the slope, avoids all trees and has minimal impact on its natural surroundings. The “weightless” end of the house, overhanging off the riverbank cliff, maximizes its overall transparent appearance while being carefully balanced by buried supports. Both minimalism and transparency, in fact, are key elements here: windows bathe the house in natural light, while indoors, the dining room placement gives one the feeling of sitting in the treetops themselves. It’s a successful answer to the challenges of the site — non-intrusive while giving the owners access to what they truly want.